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Touch Me (Don't, Please)

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I wanna sleep next to you

But that's all I wanna do right now

And I wanna come home to you

But home is just a room full of my safest sounds

Sherlock Holmes has never liked being touched.

There are approximately 1,500 bacteria that live in a square inch of an average person's hand, approximately 5,000 germ cells, and and far too many unknown materials residing on the epidermis at any given time. The transfer of such materials is easy enough through simple touch, but that was never what made Sherlock Holmes so anti-touching.

Sherlock Holmes just really, really doesn't like being touched.

The doctors whisper it to Mummy, as if he cannot hear them. Asperger's syndrome, not uncommon, on the autism spectrum...

The kids at school call him something entirely different. Look me in the eye when I'm talking to you, ya'freak! Hey freak, killed any puppies lately?

His teachers keep a close eye on him. Problematic, they like to say. No regard for higher authority. “Special”.  As Sherlock grew older, he began to really, really hate the word “special”.

He's chosen a title for himself, to keep himself protected. I'm a highly-functioning sociopath, do your research.

Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.

I don't have friends.

It wasn't true, not even a little bit.

When Sherlock finally moves from the horrors of high school into uni, he doesn't expect the people to be any different to him.

After all, he is still The Freak.

Then he meets a man by the name of Victor Trevor, and everything changes. Victor does not care that Sherlock refuses to look him in the eyes, at first. He is okay with Sherlock’s no touching rule. He actually seems to like Sherlock’s eccentric deductions.

Then, halfway through his second year, Sherlock realizes that Victor has somehow ingrained himself into Sherlock's mind palace. He has become a central part of the design. Sherlock realizes, for the first time, that he might be in love.  

He had never understood what that meant.

He had travelled through school, watching people fall in “love” with others, never really understanding what the appeal was. Now, he can understand… Slightly.

Victor kisses him two months later and Sherlock feels like he is burning. It's not until Victor tries to get him to move farther that Sherlock pushes him away.  


And again.

He still does not like to be touched. Too much, anyways.

Sherlock enjoys kissing Victor. He never thought he would, but he does. But he has no intention of moving any further, thank you very much.

The fifth time Sherlock pushes Victor away, Victor snaps. He tells Sherlock that he never loved him, that he only started this relationship with him because of some bet he and his friends had made.

He calls Sherlock a Freak , and Sherlock’s entire world shatters.

Why would anyone ever love you , Freak? Did you really believe anyone could?

He kicks Vic- Trevor out, and locks his heart away within him. It will never be used again, he vows.

Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.

He graduates early, leaves Uni in the dust, vowing to never look back. For the most part, he's successful. He pretends that he does not think of Victor, does not hear his voice in his head over and over. Freak. Freak. Freak. Only for a bet. Freak. Freak. Why would anyone ever love you?

He pretends that he does not hurt, even now.

Instead, he finds himself turning to cocaine. Vic Trevor had had him try some, a few times, just to see if it would “loosen him up some”, and Sherlock enjoys the way it helps clear his head. Everything's better with a little bit of Coke.

But he is not addicted.

Oh no, he is not addicted, because Sherlock Holmes would never be something as ordinary as being an addict . No, he is very much in control, he just doesn't want to stop. Because the Coke makes everything so much brighter, so much clearer, and he can stop being The Freak, because when he is high he does not care what other people think. His deductive skills are faster than ever.

He squanders all of his money on dealers. Sherlock Holmes would not stoop to roughly cut, bad products, so the drugs quickly sap much of his money. He does not mind.

Then, one day, he makes a mistake.

He does too much, too fast, and it's too rough or something - regardless, he makes a mistake, and it is Mycroft who finds him.

It is Mycroft who he wakes up next too in the hospital.

It is Mycroft who locks him away in a rehabilitation center, away from the sanctuary of the drugs.

And it is Mycroft who makes him swear to get clean.

Sherlock resents his brother more and more with every passing day.

He gets clean in the facility, gets himself released, then immediately goes back home to get high. Sherlock stubbornly banishes the image of a disappointed Mycroft that his mind palace has conjured. He is completely in control, after all.

It is on that fateful day that, while wandering the streets completely high, Sherlock finds his way into a crime scene being run by a detective inspector named Greg Lestrade. He stumbles onto the scene, ignoring the ignorant officers yelling at him, and catches them a killer in under five minutes.

Detective Inspector Lestrade arrests him.

Later, standing in a holding cell in the back rooms of the New Scotland Yard, a rather impressed Lestrade makes him a deal. Get yourself clean , he says, and I'll let you consult with us on cases. Man like you, with a talent like that - you shouldn't be wasting your life on crap like Coke. He holds out his hand to shake.

Sherlock does not thank him. He certainly does not take the DI’s hand. Instead, he lays every detail of the DI’s failed marriage, hostility between him and his children, and the 13 hour all-nighter the DI had pulled the night before in his face. He expects the DI to retract his offer. To say the F word. Freak.

Instead, he says a different F word. Fuck, get out of here, he says. I'll call you when you're sober.

He begins to consult for the Yard three weeks later, when a triple homicide is too tricky for the force and they are fully out of their depths. Sherlock sweeps in, impressive coat he's just bought because it commands respect flapping in the breeze, and catches the killer in two days.

It is on the first day of this case that Sherlock has the pleasure of making the acquaintance of one Sergeant Sally Donovan.

Donovan has no problems with letting the world know her opinions of Sherlock. She does not trust his deductions, does not think that it is possible that the grocer was the one killing these people. She is the first officer to call him Freak.

In return, Sherlock deduces her. He deduces her affair with the (married!) pathologist on the squad, a greasy-haired sallow-faced man named Phillip Anderson. He deduces her money troubles, despite being on the squad - she is paying off the medical bills her recently deceased father has left her. He deduces her recent animosity towards her grieving mother, who Donovan believes should've moved on, as the death of her husband was over half a year ago.

He deduces her own grief, hidden under long shifts and distraction by way of the aforementioned pathologist.

Sally Donovan is the first person on the force to come to hate him. She is certainly not the last.

Over the next few cases, every single person on the force (with the exception of DI Lestrade, who seems to hold a grudging respect for the younger man) comes to either resent, or even hate, Sherlock Holmes.

Which he is fine with. As long as he gets to do The Work, as long as he gets to stimulate his brain with the excitement of The Game, he is fine.

It does not matter to him that the force believes that one day he will be the one putting a body before them. It does not bother him that most of the force gets an insane amount of pleasure out of the mere thought of Sherlock Holmes behind bars.  

All that matters is The Work.

Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.

Sherlock is 31 years old when John Watson comes into his life, and once he does it's as if he's been there the whole time.

John… Fits. He doesn't make too much of a fuss over body parts in the refrigerator, or lab equipment on the table. He thinks Sherlock's deductions are amazing, brilliant, oh stop you're making me blush. He giggles with Sherlock at crime scenes.

Sherlock has gotten better at making eye contact with people. He still does not like it, but he understands that it is necessary. He still does not do touch , though.

And John respects that.

The first time John tries to touch him, he flinches and goes still and John understands immediately. He does not try to touch Sherlock again, staying careful to only do so if strictly necessary.

And it's… Good. Fine. No big deal. Right?

Except that it is, because the last time someone has complimented him like this without wanting something in return is… Actually, Sherlock can’t remember if that’s ever happened.

Trevor doesn’t count, after all .

In no time at all, John has fitted himself into Sherlock's life. He comes with him to crime scenes, forces him to eat when he hasn't done so in over three days, and respects his boundaries. It's nice.

They have a little bit more than a year together and then Sherlock dies .

Well, not really. He's not actually dead , per say. More like… A temporary hiatus.

Regardless, he has to leave.

He has to leave and he regrets leaving John more than anything, John who he's only known for a little over year, John who had been the reason why he had to leave anyways, John whose life he is sacrificing his own for.

It's somewhere halfway between Moscow and Siberia that he realizes he may have feelings for John Watson.

He has no idea where these… Emotions came from. He thought he'd been finished with them after the failure that was Victor, but apparently he was mistaken. For some reason, John was all he could think about.

Sitting across from him at Angelo’s.

Playing the violin in the living room.

John forcing him to eat when he's gone too long without food.

Listening to him peck away at his computer keys slowly.

And sometimes, he'll allow himself to think a little deeper, cede to that annoying muscle called his heart and think about John.

Kissing John.

Touching his face, holding him close. ( And since when has Sherlock ever wanted to be touched? Of course, it would be done only on his terms. And it's John. Which makes everything different.)

Listening to his strong, steady heartbeat.

Finally getting to examine that scar on his shoulder.

Just the thought of sitting in the living room across from the man made his heart feel strange.

He can already hear what Mycroft would say if he was here now. How horribly mundane , he would sneer. How human of you, Sherlock.

See, he made a couple of discoveries about himself while he was overseas. He did a bunch of research. He observed , because that's what Sherlock Holmes does best.

And he'd discovered that the muscle contained in his chest wasn't as dead as he'd previously thought.

He was in love.

Or maybe he is confusing Mycroft with Moriarty. Regardless, he will not bow to these mundane emotions. Not when there is work to be done, webs to be undone.

Sherlock has been touched more in the past almost-two-years then he had been his entire life, and he hates it.

He still doesn't do touch, after all.

He comes back.

He comes back and he didn't know what he expected, but it definitely isn't what he finds.


His John. And her .


Blonde, and pixieish, and not him .

Sherlock didn't expect watching John touch someone else to hurt as much as it did.

He comes back and John punches him in the face and throws him to the floor and reopens the gashes littering his back but it's okay, Sherlock deserved it for the pain he caused John.

Later on they'll lie in bed together and John will trace the lines that litter his back and apologize over and over and over again, and Sherlock will repeat that it's alright, it really is, because all the events overseas led to Sherlock never enjoying touch more than when John is touching him.

John never forgives himself for causing Sherlock even more pain.

Sherlock spends every day reassuring him that it was alright.

He crawls back home ( it’s not home without John and when did John become home?) to Baker street to take care of his wounds and his wounded pride, repeating the mantra he taught himself oh so long ago.

Alone is what I have. Alone protects me.

John gets married and Mary is pregnant and it’s too much too soon too much and Sherlock can’t take it.

He leaves the wedding, goes home early and cries like he hasn't cried in decades. He hasn't cried like he cries now since… Trevor.

He cries like he could tear his heart out but it's no use because his heart has changed, has realized that there is someone in the world it can connect too. His heart no longer resides in his own chest, but in the form of one Doctor John H. Watson.

But it's no use to dwell on dreams, so he picks himself up and dusts himself off and hopes against hope that everything will be okay even if he doesn't have John.

Every day he feels just a little more like he's dying inside.

And then everything is moving too much too fast and Magnussen in threatening him, threatening John , and nothing is okay. Mycroft is in danger, Mary is in danger, John is in danger , and that simply will not do.

On one fateful day, Sherlock breaths into an office to hunt for evidence, confronts Charles A. Magnussen, and gets shot.

The next, Sherlock shoots a man. Sherlock kills Charles Augustus Magnussen and, in his own way, has repaid a debt that he has owed to John since the first time they met.

He saves John’s life, just like John had saved his all those years ago.

It almost makes having to leave him worth it.


But in the end, he doesn't leave.

Mycroft pulls his strings just like Sherlock had expected, and he is returned to the Queen’s Lands, high as a kite but safe and not being sent on a death sentence of a mission.

And everything just goes up from there.

Mary’s child isn't John’s. She disappears of the face of the earth - Mycroft's doing, no doubt, for the woman had tried to kill Sherlock and no one touches Mycroft Holmes’s little brother. John returns to Baker Street broken but safe, and Sherlock devotes his time to making him happy again. They go on cases together, get takeout, laugh at crime scenes.

It’s almost like old times.

Except it’s not, because during his trip ‘round the world he’d come to terms with the fact that he holds within his closely guarded heart sentiment for John Hamish Watson, and then close to a year and a half hiding those feelings while John married a woman he’d claimed to love.

And now John is back, John is back where he belongs with Sherlock and Sherlock is trying so hard to quell his feelings as they fill his insides, threatening to burst out in a crescendo of emotion and Sherlock almost cannot stop it. He is terrified of what would happen if he were to act but even more terrified of never being able to do so.

It turns out he does not have to. John kisses him , in the end; it is in the heat of the moment, brought on by the rush of the chase, and it is passionate and perfect and yet so imperfect at the same time.

Sherlock Holmes has never liked being touched, but he finds that he does not mind it at all when John Watson touched him.

And of course, there’s a lot of talking. Talking, and crying, and Sherlock tells John everything - from start to finish, from the doctors in primary to Victor Trevor in uni (for he can finally say his name without feeling betrayed; Sherlock doesn't need Trevor anymore, not when he has John), about how he may never want to have sex with John because he’s broken (but he’s not and John spends years trying to convince him of this truth), and then everything is out in the open and John holds him as they both cry.

He tells John that he rather enjoys being held by the elder, and John blushes pink and holds him even tighter.

Sherlock Holmes has never liked being touched. 

There are approximately 1,500 bacteria that live in a square inch of an average person's hand, approximately 5,000 germ cells, and and far too many unknown materials residing on the epidermis at any given time. The transfer of such materials is so, so easy through simple touch.

There are times where even John’s touch is repulsive, no matter how gentle the touch is, and Sherlock keeps waiting for the axe to fall and it’ll all be over with a “You’re repulsive” and “Broken” and “Freak” but it never happens and he has begun to believe that it never will.

But most of the time he will curl up next to his lover and let John stroke his back as he names all the regions of bone in Sherlock’s spine, and even though it is elementary knowledge Sherlock will never tire of hearing the words from John’s mouth. They are interspersed with praise and endearments and only then does Sherlock believe he could possibly be enough.

So come over now

And talk me down